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Building a More Inclusive Pakistan: Solutions for Transgender Equality

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Abstract

This paper will analyse the grievances faced by the transgender community in Pakistan. They are politically, economically and socially disintegrated from the  society. In Pakistan, transgender are deprived of the basic necessities of life. They often endured mental and physical violence. They are not even considered as humans as in the case witnessed by Pakistan a few years ago in Peshawar. In which the doctor refused to treat her. In Pakistan’s society, they are not even considered humans because of their abnormal physical appearance. The damage which was done by society against transgender is irretrievable, but loss can still be reversed by legislation. As it is crystal clear, only legal action can protect them. Furthermore, literature on the problems of the Transgender community is in  paucity. Writers should work at grassroots level to conduct research and engage themselves with the transgender community.

Introduction

The name transgender in Pakistan is linked with dancing, whoring and street walking. In Pakistan’s community, kidnapping , abduction and sexual abuse are considered as normal practices . Transgender are marginalized as they are grappling with various problems including social exclusion, economic marginalization, lack of legal recognition, discrimination and rampant violence. Social exclusion means they are not welcomed by their family. Economic marginalization  means they are not allowed to get employment. The only profession they are left with is prostitution and dancing. In a similar manner, discrimination means they do not have equal rights in society. Although the supreme court historical ruling has made it obligatory on the government and citizens of Pakistan that they should secure their legal rights, even legal action has failed to protect them. The violence against transgender and cross dresser is also rampant in Pakistan. Furthermore, natural calamities used to exacerbate their miseries. However, the government has recently passed the gender protection act 2018  and the act was hailed as a big success for the trans community. Transgender should be provided with their rights of education, employment and should be integrated into the society.

Research Methodology

For the purpose of study, a descriptive method should be used to analyse the transgender issue. Secondary data should be used from different major research papers,  journals, books and institutions.  In research we used non-numerical data to understand ideas, facts and experiences.

Literature review

On the problem of gender discrimination, a lot of work has been carried out by numerous scholars. The struggle for gender equality started in the west during the  waves of feminism . When different scholars demanded suffragettes and economic rights. Scholars like Mary Wollstonecraft have compelled the Western world with their writings. Similar movements and waves have been started in Pakistan for equal gender rights. Besides transgender, women still in Pakistan are unable to secure reasonable positions in parliaments and business firms. The Transgender community is marginalized and sandwiched, but the grim fact is, there is scarcity of knowledge about the issues faced by a transgender. There are few articles and research papers .Few research articles have been written to explain the issues of transgenderism in relation to religion, but the religion of Pakistan has already provided rights for minorities. The violation of their rights is dubbed as sin in Islam. This research will also explain the  difficulties faced by the trans community during floods and natural calamities. A recent deluge in Pakistan has caused havoc against trans communities.

Life of transgender in Pakistan:

Transgender can be defined as a person whose sexual characteristics differ in the form that correlates with sex. Transgender are the people in Pakistan who have the lowest degree  and reverence. Conservatives in Pakistan are not even willing to accept them as human beings . There are 2 percent of people in Pakistan are affected by Transgenderism. When such a type of person is born in any family, the family at first glance are willing to abandon them and in most cases kill them because of fear of society.

  • Transgender remain socially isolated

Like many, people in Pakistan have a firm belief that their identities are contrary to the accepted gender roles . Their lives were covered in the dreary darkness under a cloudless sky. They have to deal with depression, anxiety and fear. As no one is willing to embrace them, this trauma leads them towards isolation and despondency.

  •    Economic deprivation

Firstly, they are not educated because they are not allowed in the schools and universities. Because  of the lack of access to education, they are lurked in the cycle of non-employment. They used to beg on the roads and resort to sex for the fulfillment of their basic financial needs. This leads to further isolation and ostracism.

  •    Struggling with their legal rights.

Transgender are not enjoy the same liberty as enjoyed by the other citizens of Pakistan. Although the Constitution of Pakistan has articulated in article 4 and 9 that they should be protected and should be entitled to the same and equal rights. But still many are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

  •  Violence and discrimination

People have a lack of awareness about the woes faced by the transgender community. As  there is a common assumption that they are different, this leads to  unfair treatment of them. In a similar manner, rights are  violated and they have  to endure violence not just from the common public but also from criminals. As they are easy targets and no one is willing to protect them and their life means nothing to anyone. They are facing sexual violence which has triggered health problems including Aids. The rate of mental health orders is also exacerbating.

  •  Natural calamities and transgender

In 2022’,  Pakistan witnessed a gigantic kind of deluge which has submerged a third of Pakistan. Citizens have lost their homes, inflation has been skyrocketed. The state has started working for the devastated community. They have set up camps for those who lost their loved ones and abodes. In that devastation, no one has paid heed to the community who is not allowed in the camps who was not compensated by the government with funds and stipends. They remain vulnerable to diseases and continue to sleep on roads. Even during a pandemic, many have the opinion that if they do not die from the virus they will definitely die from hunger. As sex was the only source of income,  people have adopted physical distancing.

 Case of Alisha -transgender killed in Peshawar

Peshawar is a part of KPK. KP is composed of 25 districts . In Peshawar, 23-year-old gender activist Alisha  was  shot by an anonymous person. When her wounded body was carried to the hospital, the lady Rendering hospital staff were not willing to treat her. The government remains embezzled  for four hours but failed to decide whether he/she is male or female. In the meantime, Alisha left the world. Her body left many questions behind:  who am I? Why am I treated like this?  There are many Alisha’s who have lost their precious lives due to lack of health facilities, lost their lives due to their mental traumas, left the world due to HIV, but the grim fact is, no one is willing to address their miseries. There is a need to understand that they are not born to be raped and ridiculed.

Promoting Transgender Equality in Pakistan: Key Steps Forward

  1. Educational institutions.

 The state should build educational institutions for this community as they are not allowed to go to normal schools. Although such types of efforts have been made by the government in 2022 , for instance, they have set up a school in Barkat market, Lahore, and this is the first transgender school. Second, Madrassah education was started by a lady in Johar town, Lahore. Still, there is a margin for improvement.

  •  Government should provide financial aid to transgender

The government should help them financially. This type of program was started by the Punjab government in which they announced that they would deliver 3000 rupees to transgender over 40 .

  • Transgender act 2018 – such type of bill should be encouraged but controversial provision must be averted.

The government passed a transgender act in 2018 and it was a landmark achievement hailed by various activists. In which the third gender is entitled is to their rights of inheritance, passport, right to life, right to property. According to the Islamic council, the provision in which one can change one’s identity according to their will is questionable, but besides this provision, every provision will prove helpful for the integration of transgender into a community.

  • Economic integration

 Governments should increase their quota of jobs. Governments should also compel the private sector to compensate them. Their political and economic representation should be enhanced.

  • Scholars of Gender studies should work on its literature

Professors of gender studies should conduct research on the topic. They should proliferate information through their articles because they can shape the opinion of the masses through their writings. There is a lack of understanding about the issues of transgenderism. Pakistan is the second largest Islamic country but still failed to address the problems faced by the third genre.

Conclusion

In Pakistan, transgender are struggling to get the basic essentials of life. The state of Pakistan has successfully provided legal cover to the transgender, but still the community has not welcomed it. Even the criminal justice system of Pakistan does not cooperate with their gender. This is the reason behind unreported cases and unreported violence. The state should enhance health facilities and provide housing facilities for this marginalized community.Education, employment opportunities, and stringent action against law violators can only help the trans community.

Endnotes

  1. Adams, S. (2022, November 10). Facing the marginalization of Pakistan’s transgender community. Accountability Lab. https://accountabilitylab.org/17190-2/
  • DailyTimes.Pk, and DailyTimes.Pk. 2019. “Transgenders in Pakistan; Challenges and Prospects.” Daily Times. February 18, 2019. https://dailytimes.com.pk/356130/transgenders-in-pakistan-challenges-and-prospects/.
  • Islam, Semra. n.d. “The Transgender Community and the Right to Equality in Pakistan:  Review of the Transgender Persons Act 2018.” Lums. https://sahsol.lums.edu.pk/sites/default/files/2022-09/the_transgender_community.pdf.

Saleem, Sana. 2016. “I Wasn’t Made to Be Raped and Ridiculed’ – Trans Woman Makes a Stand in Pakistan.” The Guardian, September 7, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2016/sep/07/i-wasnt-made-to-be-raped-and-ridiculed-trans-woman-makes-a-stand-in-pakistan.

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Sanan Hassan Lashari is a student of international relations at BZU Multan. He is keen observer of events happening at global level and love to give his opinions on them with the application of international relations theories.

Atika Hassan
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Atika Hassan is a student of an Mphil in International Relations from University Of Punjab

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